IT-ethical issues in sci-fi film within the timeline of the Ethicomp conference series

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    Purpose – This paper aims to explore human technology relations through the lens of sci-fi movies within the life cycle of the ETHICOMP conference series. Here, different perspectives on artificial intelligent agents, primarily in the shape of robots, but also including other kinds of intelligent systems, are explored. Hence, IT-ethical issues related to humans interactions with social robots and artificial intelligent agents are illustrated with reference to: Alex Proyas’ I, Robot; James Cameron’s Terminator; and the Wachowski brothers’ Matrix. All three movies present robots cast in the roles of moral agents capable of doing good or evil. Steven Spielberg’s Artificial Intelligence, A.I. gives rise to a discussion of the robot seen as a moral patient and furthermore reflects on possibilities for care and trust relations between robots and humans. Andrew Stanton’s Wall-E shapes a discussion of robots as altruistic machines in the role as facilitators of a flourishing society. Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report allows for a discussion of knowledge-discovering technology and the possibility for balancing data utility and data privacy. Design/methodology/approach – Observations of themes in sci-fi movies within the life span of the ETHICOMP conference series are discussed with the purpose of illustrating ways in which science fiction reflects (science) faction. In that sense, science fiction does not express our worries for a distant future, but rather casts light over questions, which is of concern in the present time. Findings – Human technology interactions are addressed and it is shown how sci-fi films highlight philosophical questions that puzzle us today, such as which kind of relationships can and ought to be formed with robots, and whether the roles they play as social actors demand that one ought to assign moral standing to them. The paper does not present firm answers but instead pays attention to the selection and framing of questions that deserve attention. Originality/value – To relate sci-fi movies to topics raised during the past 20 years of the ETHICOMP conference series, seemed to be an appropriate way of celebrating the 20-year anniversary of the ETHICOMP conference series..

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society
    Issue number3/4
    Pages (from-to)314-325
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


    • Artificial agents
    • Artificial intelligence
    • Autonomy
    • Philosophy
    • Surveillance
    • Trust


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